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Full text of "Byzantine Churches In Constantinople"

BYZANTINE CHURCHES
CHAP.
and established the capital of a new kingdom at Tirnovo, while Constantinople itself had been captured by the forces of the Fourth Crusade and made the seat of a Latin kingdom. Consequently, it is not surprising to find that the Chora, like other churches of the ravaged city, was in a deplorable condition at the close of those calamitous days. Nothing seemed to have been done for the repair of the church immediately upon the recovery of the capital in 1261. The ruin which the Latin occupants of Constantinople left behind them was too great to be removed at once. The first reference to the Chora at this period occurs some fourteen years after the restoration of the Byzantine Empire, when the monastery, owing to its proximity to the palace of Blachernae, was assigned to the Patriarch Veccus as the house in which to lodge on the occasion of his audiences with Michael Palaeologus, on Tuesdays, to present petitions for the exercise of imperial generosity or justice. But the decay into which the establishment had fallen could not be long ignored, and a wealthy, talented, and influential citizen who resided in the neighbourhood, Theodore Metochites,1 decided to restore the edifice as a monument of the artistic revival of his own day.
Theodore Metochites was one of the most remarkable men of his day. His tall, large, well-proportioned figure, his bright countenance, commanded attention wherever he appeared. He was, moreover, a great student of ancient Greek literature and of the literature of later times, and although never a master of style, became an author and attempted verse. He was much interested in astronomy, and one of his pupils, the historian Nicephorus Gregoras, recognised the true length of the year and proposed the reform of the calendar centuries before Pope Gregory. Theodore's memory was so retentive that he could converse on any topic with which he was familiar, as if reading from a book, and there was scarcely a subject on which he was not able to speak with the authority of an expert. He seemed a living library, *a walking encyclopaedia/ In fact, he belonged to the class of brilliant Greek scholars who
1 Niceph. Greg. I, p. 459.